Orpheus to call the shots
ORPHEUS appears almost back to his best and will enjoy tomorrow's 1400-metre Gladiator Trophy, despite carrying topweight against some useful horses.
A fast-finishing second behind top three-year-old MONEY MAGNET at 1200 metres two weeks ago, ORPHEUS failed by only three-quarter length in an uphill task against the quick filly, who chased torrid splits of 22.3 and 46.0 set by SIEMPRE BUENO and ZEPHYR.
The final time of 1:11.3 was even faster than the 1:11.4 in which MONEY MAGNET had placed third behind CHACE THE GREAT and TRADITIONAL PRINCE in the Caribbean Sprint on Superstakes Day.
ORPHEUS came home willingly, closing alongside ANOTHER BULLET, with whom he had raced as a team down the backstretch, before leaping forward to go after MONEY MAGNET inside the last half-furlong.
Nunes appears to have finally got ORPHEUS back to where he left in July of last year, a strong classic-placed runner, who was awarded the Jamaica Derby in the stewards' room following a double disqualification, but broke down while on the lead a furlong out in the St Leger three weeks later.
It took Nunes a little over a year to bring ORPHEUS back to the races and the four-year-old colt has gradually worked himself to full fitness, facing some of the toughest horses in training in eight starts including a fourth-place finish behind SHE'S A MANEATER in October's Fontainbleu Trophy at seven furlongs.
Among ORPHEUS' five rivals are ANOTHER BULLET as well as the up-in-class pair of BLUE DIXIE and MARVELLOUS MARVA, both strong winners last time out.
ANOTHER BULLET, in particular, has been fearless this season, involved in major battles against CHACE THE GREAT, CHOO CHOO BLUE and SHE'S A MANEATER, even finishing second in the Fontainbleu Trophy, almost four lengths ahead of fourth-place ORPHEUS.
However, that was ORPHEUS' fourth race back off a year's lay-up whereas ANOTHER BULLET hardly missed a chance to race all season and was fresh out of a short-head loss to CHOO CHOO BLUE in the Saint Cecelia Trophy a week and a half earlier.
When they met two weeks ago behind MONEY MAGNET, ORPHEUS was clearly the stronger horse in the closing stages, turning the table on his five-year-old rival, and should outfinish him again.
Meanwhile, BLUE DIXIE, who franked her Diamond Mile Day second-place run behind ORPHEUS' stablemate, SOY EL SENOR, looked awesome in an eight-length victory among overnight allowance horses with the tongue tie fitted last week Wednesday.
However, open allowance won't be as accommodating for the recent overnight allowance winners - BLUE DIXIE, SOLY EL SENOR or MARVELLOUS MARVA.
ORPHEUS gets the right trip, patient Shane Ellis and a pace which should come right back to him after ANOTHER BULLET exhausts the early fractions.